1 injured in blast inside commercial van; VM Duterte says “relax lang”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 November) – An explosion inside a commercial van whose passengers had earlier disembarked injured slightly the driver’s assistant but OIC Mayor Paolo Duterte repeatedly said “relax lang mo, naa man atong kapulisan (the police are here), they are doing their jobs.”

A member of the Davao City police explosive and ordnance unit inspects a van that was shattered by an improvised explosive device along Ecoland Drive around 9:45 a.m. Wednesday (18 Nov 2015). MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

German Daag, driver of the Toyota Hi-Ace van that came from Pikit in North Cotabato, told reporters he had just dropped off his passengers at the SM van terminal at around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and he and his aide, Tatat Besanez, immediately headed to the Times Beach area to eat breakfast when something exploded in the van just as they were cruising along Ecowest Drive fronting Ecoland 4000 Residences.

Duterte and the city police chief said the police were on double red alert following Friday night’s terror attacks in Paris and the Philippines’ hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) in Manila this week, but both officials admitted “nakalusot” (the incident was not averted).

“Actually expected na ni (this was expected), not only in Davao but anywhere” since the terror attacks in Paris on November 13,” said Supt. Vicente Danao, city police chief.

“Among tan-aw cell phone gigamit ani” (We think a cell phone was used to detonate here), said Duterte.

But Danao said they cannot conclude the explosion was caused by a bomb until the post-blast investigation is finished. Only then will they know, he said, if this was “caused by bomb explosion or something went wrong.”

Only the rear of the van was damaged but because of the impact of the explosion, the shards reached some 80 meters away from the van, deflating tires and partly damaging the sides of vehicles parked on the road outside the condominium.

Danao urged the public to also help by reporting suspicious-looking persons in their vicinity.

Danao said he cannot say what the message of the perpetrators is but “definitely if you will choose Davao City kasi, it will create bigger news.”

But he noted that there would have been a “bigger damage and bigger casualty” if the passengers were still inside the van.

Radio DXAB reports said three passengers disembarked at the terminal while another got off on the road outside the terminal.

Duterte ordered the police to strengthen and tighten security measures and even add personnel particularly those in the boundaries.

“Expected na man ni” (This was expected), Duterte said, especially after what happened in Paris and this week’s APEC. “Maayo gani kay walay namatay,” (It’s good nobody died), Duterte said as he urged the public to trust the police and the Task Force Davao.

Among Mindanaos’s 33 cities, it is only Davao City which has, since the airport and seaport bombings in 2003, installed checkpoints manned 24/7 by Task Force Davao in the city’s boundaries with Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte and Bukidnon. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews with reports)